GRR

Review: BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe

25th September 2019
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

While this four-door version of the BMW 8-Series coupé might seem like a niche within a niche, it will account for double the combined sales of the M8 variants in the UK, which is BMW’s second biggest market for this car, behind America. BMW expects to sell 1,000 of them in the UK alone.

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Who knew? It proves how much we now enjoy the blend of practicality and performance in Britain: gone are the days of a nation of petrolheads prizing power over comfort. Which is a little sad: how fantastic would it be if we bought M8 Competitions in their hundreds? The air would be thick with the noise of thrumming sports exhausts.

The 8 Series Gran Coupe is a stunning car. It serves to remind just how joyous a generous, spacious, powerful GT can be. Despite being a tiny bit longer, wider and higher than the coupe (by a matter of millimetres), and despite the addition of two frameless rear doors to the body of the coupe, the Gran Coupe still carries off that low, long-legged silhouette with style. The wheelbase has been stretched in line with the body, to keep the elongated proportions that are so essential for a graceful grand tourer.

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Inside, there is an impressive amount of leg space: my driving companion is 6ft 5in and there was room for 5ft 6in me behind him in the rear. In keeping with the luxury charter of this model, there are just two rear seats in the back: leg space for a third person is replaced by a central console above the transmission tunnel with various comfort controls on it. Four adults will happily ride in comfort from the UK down to, say, Portugal, where we tested this car. The boot rises electronically to reveal a deep and wide space for luggage.

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Engines on offer at launch (there will be an M version in due course) are the 840i petrol (340 horsepower, rear-wheel-drive), the 840d xDrive (320hp, four-wheel-drive but RWD biased) and the M850i xDrive (V8, 530hp, four-wheel-drive but ditto). Do not confuse the M850i xDrive range-topping Gran Coupe with the M8 Gran Coupe, which is a different kettle of fish entirely. Confused? You’re not alone. But we can save your brain cells: you’ll not be wanting an M8 Gran Coupe. If you want M8 raw dynamics you’ll buy the coupé or convertible versions, not a four-door, longer-wheelbase hot coupé/saloon thing.

We drove the standard 840i Gran Coupe with rear-wheel-drive (plus the M8 Competition Convertible, the review of which will be coming soon…). For most motorists, 340hp will be enough, even in a car weighing nearly two tonnes. BMW’s smooth power delivery from the new straight-six petrol engine and competent eight-speed automatic transmission means there are no frustrating peaks or lags in power and torque (500Nm), and the chassis is sublime: BMW’s motorsport-derived knowhow from the M8 GTE means the traction control is phenomenal, allowing enough latitude to play with the rear wheels under pressure, but not so much that the driver loses control easily. The ride in Sport mode is very clever, combining tougher damping and quicker responses with enough comfort for everyday driving.

There are M Sport brakes as standard and active steering, as well as an M aero package to help keep you tethered at speed.

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The standard specification for this luxury GT is impressive: 20-inch alloys, BMW display key, heads-up display, adaptive LED headlights, parking assistant, four-zone air-con, front and rear heated seats, welcome lights, automatic tailgate, Bluetooth with wireless charging and a Harmon Kardon audio system. Standard spec for the 850i xDrive also includes the M Sport differential and Sport exhaust system.

Options include lots of carbon, soft-close doors, more M styling, an M adaptive suspension package, BMW’s glass illuminated gearstick which another colleague unkindly called the Towie specification, TV and an upgrade to the Bowers and Wilkins audio.

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This is a lovely, lovely car, with enough oomph to excite, even with the base engine, and BMW’s almost-perfect chassis. We don’t like the steering wheel, which as ever on BMWs is ridiculously too thick and immediately puts one in mind of burnouts on Southend sea front. But that’s essentially it, which is quite something. It’s on sale now, for deliveries from November.

 

Stat attack: BMW 840i xDrive

Price: £69,340

Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged straight-six petrol

Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive

Power/torque: 340PS @ 5,000-6,500rpm/500Nm (369lb ft) @ 1,600-4,000rpm

0-62mph: 5.2 seconds

Top speed: 155mph

Combined economy: 37mpg

Kerb weight: 1,855kg

  • Review

  • BMW

  • 8 Series

  • Gran Coupe

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